Last Updated: 09/12/12 4:30pm
The referee ends the match after a remarkable conclusion. Van Persie won the match for United with a late free-kick but there will be plenty more said about the problems that followed from the crowd after the winner. Stay with us for all the reaction.
The game gets back under way after the goal and the disappointing scenes that followed. City have the ball near to the United box but can't create a chance.
Not great scenes here now. It looks like Ferdinand has been hit by an object thrown from the crowd. He has a cut just above his left eye. A City fan then made his way on the pitch before being escorted off the field.
GOAL VAN PERSIE! Van Persie's free-kick takes a deflection and beats Hart at his right hand post to put United back ahead. The away side lead 3-2 right at the end of this clash.
Tevez concedes a free-kick in the United box as he knocks Smalling to the ground. The forward shows plenty of frustration but it can't be doubted just how much of an impact he's made on this match.
GOAL ZABALETA! The corner isn't properly cleared by United and Zabaleta takes advantage to fire home a half-volley from just inside the box. Great finish from the defender to pull City level.
Still so much left to happen in this match. Both sides look like they could strike again and the tempo is really high.
Valencia takes the ball away from Zabaleta down the right but the defender recovers and wins the ball back for City. The hosts break.
The corner is cleared and United break. Frustration for Rooney as he fails to win a free-kick on the edge of the box. Looks like the correct call from the referee.
Somehow De Gea is able to deny Silva. The United goalkeeper denies the City man with a touch that takes the ball on to the bar and behind for a goalkeeper.
Van Persie sends a header high over the bar as he finds himself in space eight yards from the City goal. Decent chance for United.
Yaya Toure is back on the field but he's hardly moving. His game will be over soon despite returning to action.
Yaya Toure is now booked for a crunching late challenge on Cleverley. The City midfielder needs a bit of treatment after that.
A free-kick is lofted into the United box and the ball just about drifts away from Kolo Toure at the left hand post of the United goal.
City have every right to feel frustrated as a storming run down the right from Yaya Tore is stopped in full flow. The referee pulled play back to book Rooney but he should have waited.
A loose pass from Carrick is sent out of play for a goal-kick. United need a little bit more composure as they allow the City fans to get right behind their side.
Smalling ushers the ball behind for a goal-kick under plenty of pressure from Aguero. United's defence should have plenty more work to do before we are done today.
Rooney's corner from the left is met by Evra but he can only direct his header well wide of the far post. Still 2-1 to United and all to play for.
De Gea has done well today. The double-save before Yaya Toure scored is really worth a look if you get the chance.
Tevez again causes panic as he tangles with Evra before a weak shot is saved by De Gea. He has made all the difference for City.
We have a chance to catch some breath as Rafael receives some treatment. It looks like he will be fine to continue.
Fantastic defending from Smalling to stop Tevez as he looks to make space for a shot. United are having to stay strong as they try to quell the City momentum.
Evra tumbles on the edge of the City box but his penalty appeals are waved away. Looks like the right call as the officials have plenty to do.
Blimey that was quite a few minutes. United had a goal that looked onside ruled out and City went straight up the other end and scored. The atmosphere is rocking here now.
GOAL YAYA TOURE! Oh my! De Gea denies City with a fantastic double save but the danger isn't over and Yaya Toure fires the ball home. United now lead 2-1 and we have game on!
The corner is cleared and United break. Van Persie hits the post with a fantastic effort from the edge of the box and Young is caught offside as he nets the rebound. Looks like that might have been the wrong call.
Good work from Ferdinand to knock the ball away from Aguero at the far post from Nasri's cross from the right. Corner to City.
Aguero isn't too far away from providing it as a curling effort from Aguero goes just wide of the left hand side of De Gea's goal.
Anger all round from the City bench and fans as Zabaleta concedes a free-kick after tangling with Young. The hosts need a bit of magic to get back in this match.
Valencia can't keep the ball in play down the right and City have a throw-in. Lots of positives for Sir Alex Ferguson with his selection today as Valencia, Cleverley and Young have all impressed.
Silva is now caught offside as he bids to find space down the left. City on top after the break but nothing for United to worry about yet.
Silva is frustrated as he fails to win a corner after a challenge from Rafael. City need to keep their cool as they bid to launch a comeback.
City make the expected change with Tevez taking the place of Balotelli. Straight down the tunnel for the Italian after a frustrating game.
City get the fans going with a spell of possession close to the United box. It ends with De Gea gathering the ball.
City are also going to make a change. Carlos Tevez is ready and I don't think this substitution is down to an injury.
United easily clear the danger and Clichy gives away a free-kick as he fouls van Persie on the halfway line.
We get closer to the second half with Gabriel writing; "City need to get at United now. I think they need to control the midfield the way they did up until Rooney's goal. Unfortunately for them they haven't got any attacking midfielders on the bench but if they can win this midfield battle and score the next goal early, they may yet be in with a shout. I'm sticking 1-2 though."
City are now out to 10/1 with Sky Bet to win this match. United are the 1/5 favourites and the draw is 5/1. Among the price boosts are United to win 4-1 at 18/1, Yaya Toure to score next at 9/1 and Aguero to score next & a final score of 3-3 at 80/1. That last one would make for an entertaining second half.
The referee blows his whistle to end the first half. United lead 2-0 after taking control following City's bright start. Will we see Dzeko or Tevez for the hosts after the break? Thoughts to email@example.com.
Hart slices a clearance for a United throw deep in the City half. Nothing comes from it but United are still the side smiling.
Aguero takes a tumble in a chase with Ferdinand and the referee rightly waves away the very muted appeals for a penalty.
City enjoy a spell of possession at the back and City are happy to let them do so as we near the break.
Gareth Barry isn't always the man you want a chance to fall to. That is proved here as he sends a low effort wide from the edge of the box.
Van Persie creates panic as he twists and turns on the edge of the box before his blocked shot is gathered by Hart. The City fans are feeling starting to show their frustration here.
Pablo Zabaleta bundles Young to the ground on the edge of the United box. Correct decision from the referee but City can't help but show plenty of frustration. More to do with the scoreline.
A rare quiet spell in this match now. That won't worry United as they are keeping Silva very quiet today and there haven't been as many moments as City would want from Aguero and especially Balotelli.
Roberto Mancini must be thinking about changing things at the break if the score stays as it is. Carlos Tevez must be top of his options.
A United attack ends with Rooney caught offside. The away side now having the better of things as City look a little lost.
City win a free-kick as Evans goes in late on Nasri. Still no booking and referee Martin Atkinson has kept control well so far.
Sir Alex Ferguson must be delighted with this start. United will go six points clear at the top of the Premier League if they claim the three points today.
Kolo Toure now gets a bit carried away. The defender finds the ball at his feet 30 yards from goal and sends a truly dreadful shot high and wide of the United goal.
GOAL ROONEY! Rafael's low cross from the right finds Rooney on the edge of the six-yard box and the striker easily turns his shot home. Great work from the full-back to create the chance that gives United a 2-0 lead.
Kolo Toure now gets a bit carried away. The defender finds the ball at his feet 30 yards from goal and sends a truly dreadful shot high and wide of the United goal.
City clear the corner at the second attempt and Yaya Tore breaks forward. He gets a bit carried away in his bid to win a free-kick and the referee isn't falling for it. We play on.
Looks like Evans has now recovered from Balotelli's challenge. City have plenty of question marks over their defence now after Kompany's departure.
Great skill from Aguero to create space for a shot on the edge of the box. The finish isn't the best and De Gea gathers with ease. The Argentina international is, as many will have expected, looking much more lively than Balotelli.
Hart does well to race out of his goal and knock the ball away from the onrushing Young. There is plenty more spring in United's step following Rooney's opener.
City do make the change and the really bad news for them is that Vincent Kompany is the man to make way for Kolo Toure. That's an injury Roberto Mancini really could have done without.
The United fans are now the ones making themselves heard. There is a little worry for Sir Alex Ferguson as Evans still doesn't look completely happy following that foul from Balotelli earlier.
That really has come as a surprise. City were well on top but a quick break has done the trick and Rooney grabbed the glory. Not the cleanest of strikes but United won't mind.
GOAL ROONEY! United break and go 1-0 up as Rooney takes control of Young's pass and sends a low shot home into the bottom right hand corner of Joe Hart's goal. Fair to say that has come against the run of play.
Balotelli overhits his attempted through ball to Aguero and De Gea gathers. Evans is back on the field.
Balotelli tries to be clever down the right flank but he loses the ball and then takes down Jonny Evans with a lunging challenge. No booking but the United defender looks in a little bit of trouble.
De Gea gathers the corner. The United goalkeeper will have a busy afternoon if the match continues like this.
A very neat City attack ends with Balotelli sending a very loose half-volley high over the bar. That shot is still rising.
More City possession. They have found their feet. Yaya Toure looking like the man who could pop up and cause quite a few problems.
A sustained spell of City possession ends with Evra knocking the ball away from Samir Nasri. The hosts should be happy with this start.
The corner causes a little bit of panic but United stay cool to clear. Really lively start with City having the better of things early on.
Balotelli takes it and his low, driven effort is knocked behind for a corner by De Gea. Easy save for the United goalkeeper to make.
More shouting here as Rio Ferdinand takes down Sergio Aguero and gives City a free-kick in a decent position.
Plenty going on now. Wayne Rooney fouls David Silva and Yaya Toure in quick succession and is lucky to avoid a booking.
We are under way and it isn't a vintage start from United as Patrice Evra fires the ball out of play.
The Manchester United team is read out. Most people boo. The Manchester City team is read out. Most people cheer. Such is always the way with football.
It feels like a Royal celebration as the City fans wave a few flags about. The handshakes are over and this is it.
Here we go. The players leave the tunnel and arrive on the field. Lots of cheering as you would expect from the crowd.
The atmosphere is now starting to rise. This is why Tom Cruise couldn't resist making the trip to the Etihad Stadium.
David offers us two scorelines for the game: "Will be a brilliant, exciting game. Utd's defence is looking weak so they are likely to concede early on, and play out the half that way, with 1-0 being the half time score. Utd to go for it in the second half, whihc or may not pay off, with Utd either getting lucky and winning 1-3, or City taking advantage, counter attacking, and winning 3-0."
And now United go back to the dressing room as to the officials - and they are: Referee: Martin Atkinson, assistant referees: Peter Kirkup and Stuart Burt, fourth official: Mark Clattenberg
Plenty of activity now on the touchline with police, photographers and David Platt among the collection of people. Just 25 minutes now before we get started.
Sky Bet get ready for this crunch clash by offering 7/1 for Mario Balotelli to score and reveal any message on a T-shirt. Go to www.skybet.com for the mountain of markets available on Super Sunday.
Many of you will have spotted Anders Lindegaard isn't on the bench for United. Making Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to start with David De Gea a little easier.
Tom Cruise has just been out to have a look at the pitch. No opinions offered from the Mission Impossible 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the decision to leave out Tevez from the City starting XI.
The Manchester United players are on the field and greeted by half-hearted boos from the City fans already in the Etihad. The atmosphere should start to build now as get ready to start at 1330 GMT.
Will be interesting to hear what City and United fans think of the two sides selected. Balotelli in for City and Young and Valencia both starting for United among the talking points. Get in touch to firstname.lastname@example.org to let me and more importantly the world know your views.
The man with the most shots, shots on target, shots off target and assists for City this season is Carlos Tevez. He's left on the bench.
The man with the most shots, shots on target and shots off target for United this season is Robin van Persie. He starts and provides quite a threat.
The Manchester United starting XI: De Gea, Rafael, Evra, Ferdinand, Evans, Valencia, Rooney, Carrick, Young, Van Persie, Cleverley
News in that David De Gea, Antonio Valencia and Tom Cleverley start for United. Full and confirmed team news from the Red Devils to follow.
A shout out goes to Chris Owen for being the first to e-mail in and let us know Andrei Kanchelskis was the last man to score a hat-trick in the Manchester derby. His treble came for United way back in a 5-0 win over City in 1994. Will there be a hat-trick hero today?
What do you think of that? Aguero and Balotelli in attack for City and Clichy and Silva both get the OK to start. Let me know at email@example.com.
Manchester City have tweeted their starting XI and it is: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Nastasic, Clichy, Yaya Toure, Barry, Nasri, Silva, Aguero, Balotelli
If you enjoyed the movie Jerry Maguire and have a soft spot for Prince Charles then this update from the good people at Sky Bet will be to your liking: Jon Witty of the Leeds-based firm says: "Man City are 23/20 to win their third successive Manchester derby in the Premier League, with United 11/5 and the draw 5/2. We expect to see more support for the visitors ahead of the clash with punters fancying Sir Alex Ferguson's men to extend their lead at the top of the table. With Tom Cruise in attendance, top guns Robin van Persie and Carlos Tevez have both been price-boosted to 11/2 to open the scoring. Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero are both to score enhanced to 10/1 in our 'Sunday Best' special media special. In much more pressing news, any player to score & reveal a t-shirt congratulating royal pregnancy is our most popular request-a-bet special at 100/1!"
No news on the teams yet but the wait for City is to see if David Silva, James Milner and Gael Clichy will feature. Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic are expected to miss out for United again but maybe there will be a surprise?
Tom Cruise is meant to be here today but I haven't the star of Vanilla Sky yet so what about some stats. City and United have played each other 146 times over the course of history with 39 City wins, 58 United wins and 49 draws. The last clash between these sides was, as plenty of you will remember, City's crucial 1-0 victory at the Etihad in April. Vincent Kompany headed home the winner and Roberto Mancini's men went on to win the title. Will set you a little quiz question as well - the last man to score a hat-trick in this fixture was.... Answers to firstname.lastname@example.org and the winner gets what the kids and local radio call a shout out.
Tom Symons writes: "Massive game for both clubs. As a united fan this is key to regaining momentum back from City. RVP could prove a pivotal signing and should give us the edge today. If we can win the midfield battle we will win the game. With both defences being frail, both teams won't want to make a mistake and this could be they're undoing!"
Good to hear from Gabriel as he gets the e-mails started off by writing: "So excited for today's game, can't wait to watch it, and I think you've got as much chance of calling it right by tossing a coin as predicting. I'm gonna go with my gut and say 2-1 United - I think Rooney will have his match fitness back now and van Persie will rise to the big occasion." Send your thoughts to email@example.com with plenty more coming your way before we get started at 1330 GMT.
Manchester City v Manchester United is of course the match in question. The red half of Manchester currently have the advantage over the blue half by three points at the top of the Premier League table. That means we are set up for a key game even at this early stage in the title race.